Reading Recap: January 2019

You probably thought, after last year’s intense reading challenge, I was done with monthly reading recap posts.  I did too.  It turns out, though, I read a lot of really good books this month and want to talk about them.  I don’t know if I’ll do a recap every month.  It depends on my schedule and how much I want to talk about things.

I won’t bore you with statistics (those will come at year’s end–I’m keeping a spreadsheet), but I did finish ten books this month.  This adds up to 2,857 pages.

Every morning, right after breakfast, I spend 15-20 minutes with some kind of faith-based nonfiction.  This month, I flew through three books.  Right away, I finished The Sacred Enneagram by Chrisopher Heuertz.  I’ve heard Heuertz on the Sleeping at Last podcast and heard good things about the book.  While I didn’t think it was that well written (portions were redundant and there were too many Wizard of Oz references), I walked away from the book thinking a lot about contemplative prayer (which I have now adopted into my regular spiritual routine).  I then breezed through The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequiest, which offered an accessible introduction to sacred practices.  Contemplative prayer came up again, which was super interesting.  Finally, I read my fourth Richard Rohr book, The Naked Now.  This one was on Christian mysticism, breaking down dualistic thinking, and practical ways to develop contemplative practice.  I found it intriguing how each book flowed seamlessly into the next, the themes building upon each other.

I finished a couple volumes of poetry this month.  A friend gifted me a copy of The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, which was a complete delight.  (Thank you, Eve.  You know me so well.)  I brought it on a solo trip to the North Shore and, oh my goodness, sitting in the snowy woods reading those poems was absolute bliss.  The more I read of Berry’s work, the more I love it.  In other poetry-related news, I made it to the end of Joy: 100 Poems, edited by Christian Wieman.  Several years ago, I adopted the practice of reading poetry at the end of my morning prayer time and this was my most recent project.  I heard about the book through a series of lectures from Southborough L’Abri, bought a copy, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the complex and contradictory nature of joy.

There were several books I finished this month that were pure fluff.  Something about winter always brings me back to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  This was probably my fifth time through and I love it more every time.  Also, my tactic of using Sarah Dessen’s back catalog to lure myself to the gym continues to be effective.  I recently finished This Lullaby, which I adored in high school. I really didn’t enjoy it as much this time around, but definitely still has the charm of Dessen’s earlier works.

For my library’s book club, we read Chemistry by Weike Wang.  It’s about a PhD student whose life falls apart.  It wasn’t my favorite thing in the world, but the scattered narration made for an intriguing exploration into the narrator’s journey.  In my coffee shop book club, we discussed The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  Since I read it last May for a grad school class, I didn’t reread it and instead relied on my memory to carry the discussion.

Finally, I finished Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff, the second book of the Nevernight Chronicle.  This was a difficult book to get through.  I would read a couple hundred pages, set it down for a week, then come back.  Fun fact: I first started it eight months ago, but returned it to the library after thirty pages.  Between the sexual content and violence, this might be the most graphic book I’ve ever read.  It makes Game of Thrones look like a Disney movie.  There were times when the content was too much for me to handle and I needed distance.  But Kristoff is one hell of a writer and I live for this level of high-quality storytelling.  I couldn’t look away from the masterful world building (a Romanesque empire set in a fantasy world with three suns), brilliant footnotes (which expand the world’s mythology), the sharp-tongued narrator (who frequently breaks the third wall), and the thrill of the fast-paced plot.  Mia is a dazzling, complex, contradictory heroine.  The cliffhanger ending was stunning and I’m so excited for book three, which comes out in September.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for this month.  If you’d like to follow my reading adventures this year, feel free to add me on Goodreads!

Jan 2019 Reading Recap

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